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Report Released on Statewide Efforts to Improve Law Enforcement Responses to People with Mental Illnesses

NEW YORK—The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center released a new report today that highlights statewide initiatives for supporting local-level specialized policing responses (SPRs) for people with mental illnesses. SPRs are designed to help individuals in crisis connect to community-based treatment and supports, when appropriate, instead of becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

Governor Corbett Signs Justice Reinvestment; Other Law Enforcement Bills

HARRISBURG, Pa.– Governor Tom Corbett today signed House Bill 135, the second phase of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative that will redirect funds from corrections to communities.

Corbett also signed into law several other pieces of legislation, all related to Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.

Recent headlines

Woodland Police HOST Team Offers Insight on Daily Routine

“They are people too, and some feel that they don’t belong,” police officer Gina Bell said simply before leaving the office dressed in her brown shirt and green pants, which designate the Homeless Outreach Street Team from regular patrol staff who are dressed in traditional blue. “It breaks my heart since we are trying to help them.”

Teaching Police to Holster Their Emotions

Crisis-intervention training teaches officers to recognize symptoms of mental illness while conditioning them to decelerate their approach to someone in distress. Common tactics involve remaining at a distance to avoid startling or riling the person, attempting to persuade instead of demanding compliance, and posing open-ended questions to nurture conversation.

Police Shooting Raises Questions about Use of Force Training

Police are being taught to use requests and explanations rather than commands to persuade subjects to comply. An officer might explain that he needs a driver to step out of the car so that he can see the driver doesn’t have a weapon, rather than ordering him to do so.